tv American Artifacts International Spy Museum Exhibit on Cold War Berlin CSPAN November 28, 2019 7:30pm-8:01pm EST
>> i'm alexis, i am a curator historian at the international spy museum. we have the largest collection of espionage and intelligence related artifacts in the world. after world war ii ended, germany was divided. the united states, france, united kingdom and soviet union. soviet union again with the soviets occupying the eastern zone of berlin and the three western powers occupying the western zone. this starts
the division of germany and berlin. that became concrete with the direction of the berlin wall with the berlin wall. the wall was put up by east germans of stents of late to keep people out. and with the occupation of east germany and east berlin, hundreds of thousands of people in the east had been fleeing to the west. these numbers became larger and larger. it was a terrible drain
of intelligence and skills in the east. the east germans called what we called the berlin wall the anti-fascist fork. it was to keep out the fascist, to keep out the west. it did keep millions of these germans in as well. the city of berlin was completely isolated within east germany. we had west berlin, set up as a political and economic system that was democratic and
capitalist, completely surrounded by communist east germany. berlin became a symbol of the division between east and west and between the communist and democratic system. the berlin wall itself was about 96 miles long, completely separating west berlin from east berlin. again, cutting it off from the rest of east germany. we had a couple of pieces of the berlin wall i would like to show you. we have two authentic pieces of the
berlin wall here. we ship them over to washington, d.c. from germany and put them up here. most people, they think of all the graffiti and color and designs on the wall. these are completely plain. that's because they were on the east side, where people were not allowed to graffiti the wall. that would have had major penalties. one reason why they did not want people drawing on the wall was because having the wall be completely plain makes it easier for the guards to see people. it made them more visible against plain background. before the berlin
wall was built, several million of the 3 million people crossed the border from east to west. people didn't stop trying to get out of east germany. about 100,000 people tried to get out and half that number were successful. we have some great stories about people who were successful on getting across the wall. a lot of avery and a lot of creativity. the berlin wall was not just one wall, it was two walls. with a strip in the middle known as a death strip. we actually had one wall, a death strip, and another wall. we have a few examples,
two families that built hot air balloons and able to float across into west germany. they made the balloon part out of sheets and other pieces of material, which they stitched together. we have another extraordinary story. one brother floated across the river on an air masters. another brother was able to zipline across the border. he took some fishing line, connect did it to steel cables and shot
it across the border. a third brother was act fully able to fly across with a small light airplane. his other brothers mess among the other side. these stories are stories of success. there were many stories that ended in tragedy. at least 140 people were killed trying to cross the berlin wall. some were killed as they tried to climb the wall, they tried to cross the river, they approached the wall. some of the most tragic stories are about people who tried to cross the wall and their deaths were covered up. trying to escape from east germany was a crime.
even the fact that people wanted to try to escape was something that the state needed to cover up. we have three stories about people who died at the wall and their stories were covered up. one tragic story is about gerald thiem, a worker in west berlin. one night it appears he may have had too much to drink and he stumbled into the area near the wall, stumbled close to the wall and the guards there from the east, warned him to go away. he was then shot 177
times. his wife back in west berlin knew nothing, only that her husband had not come home that night. she didn't find out until the 1990's what happened. it's even more extraordinary, he made up an entire cover story for his wife as to why he never returned read they went so far as to show her a file where they had staged photographs. this was entirely made up. she was unable to find out the truth until decades later. let's give a another message of people trying to
escape from west berlin. going a throttle going to cross through checkpoints. we have a cutaway of a popular car at east germany the time. can you imagine fitting yourself into the wheel well of the car? sometimes hours on end without having to give it away? sometimes taking them apart completely. when they did catch people, we know sometimes they would make these people show where they had hidden and take
photos showing them where they were. and the amazing places they were trying to hide. the state security was known in east germany and anybody would have to be aware they were going to be spied upon. let's go look for the ways that's going to happen. it was a hotel room in east berlin especially for foreign guests. in fact nicknamed for the hotel was the nest. we have some wonderful artifacts to spy upon visitors
at the hotel like this. it's been modified. if you take a close look, you may be able to see that behind the window, where the cuckoo would come out, is a tiny pinhole. behind that pinhole would be a wonderful piece, it's a through the wall camera. some of these would be located on the others of this wall, looking through the eyepieces here. this long section would be going through the wall. when you are sitting in your hotel, you are being spied upon by somebody behind the wall. what is the best thing to use as a concealment,
something you would never think to conceal anything suspicious? one of them is a walnut shell. who would think anything suspicious about that? one of these walnut shells contain a one-time pad. it's a piece of paper that can be used for communicating in code and important ways of communicating secretly, because it is completely unbreakable. this bowl of walnuts was actually in the apartment of somebody in west germany who was a spy. west german security who were
looking at the apartment and investigating it had an idea that this bowl of wallnuts may not be what it looks like. and for one of them it was a glow. they were able to find the one time pass. here's another object which you might not suspected all, which is anything other than being an ordinary iron. an agent in west germany had this iron in her apartment. the bottom of the iron came out and she could keep in there some papers. if somebody did come into the apartment and was looking around, she was able to incinerate the evidence. we
found a number of pieces of clothing which are concealments for other cameras. the other is the pair of gloves here that concealed a camera.. many cameras like this were usually used with two hands. you need a secondhand to wind the film on. it means and can be sealed and things like gloves, so can be activated with just one hand.
it wouldn't look suspicious in surveillance. even when you are visiting the international spy museum, you are under surveillance when you are east berlin. that can be seen in our office. here we are in the office. we have a lot of different artifacts that reflect the incredible expertise in doing surveillance. one of our favorite artifacts is the bra camera. we have the file that shows how this was invented. it really wasn't any clothing that helped women conceal
surveillance cameras on their body. area you can see the lenses right in the middle. this plunger here would be in the pocket of your summer dress. the four women had a codename of meadow. another are in effect here. some of our exceptional artifacts the chief of the foreign intelligence branch was marcus wolf, the notorious spymaster. he was a
master of doing so. one of his techniques he developed was developing people they targeted to seduce secretaries at nato, others maybe not so young but women who are a little younger in their 30's. they would seduce them and get a lot of intelligence out of them. even up to the very highest levels of the west german chancellorship. marcus wolf had a reputation in the west for being extremely elusive his
nickname was man without a face. it was because of western intelligence. they scoured photos coming out of east germany to find this man looked like. it was not until the end of the cold war they were able to identify. we have some artifacts from marcus wolf itself himself. and we have the elk horns. marcus wolf had a summer house outside of berlin which he like to use as a place to people to bring come place to bring people who are comfortable. while they were having a beer, they were being recorded all the time. the elk
horns had a bug planted in the back. second time we have these beer coasters here that belonged to markus wolf. thethe leadership all has bunkers, where they can retreat to if there was any kind of threat of a nuclear attack. marcus wolf also had his bunker. he had these beer coasters especially made in this cartoonish figure. we have a wonderful artifact here that the officers would receive as part of that training. we have on display a criminalist kit. espionage was of course a crime. how do you
catch criminals with a criminalist kit?. anybody who is training would have taken a course at the university in east berlin. they would have received this complete kit, which is everything you need. you can see a lot of pretty mundane articles, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, rubber glove. some test tubes and little glass bottles where you may be able to store hair and fiber samples. to be able to put any kind of documents along the way. it is an entire kit for a spy catcher. if you were caught as a spy, there were serious consequences in east or lynn.
this is a prison outside of east berlin. it is the actual door from one of the prison cells. this house is local prisoners, that may be anybody who tried to escape from east berlin. for having some ideas and thoughts that may not be compatible with the communist system, as the one who may be expected as having some of the west, anything of that nature. they might stay there for days, months. we did not believe in physical torture, they develop
their own type of methods and garrett type of interrogation method that focuses much more on the psychological. somebody might be subjected to very cold temperatures. they would not be allowed to sleep for very long. they would lie on a hard bed, if they moved it all, they tried to roll over, than they had to maintain that same condition. it was all part of the stragically for breaking somebody down psychologically. perhaps confess to crimes. even after somebody was released from prison, they may still remain a suspect. you can take a look at that story next. one
other piece of information they may be collecting is a person's sent. they may have a person sit on a chair with a little piece of material, they would collect that piece of material and store it in a jar on a shelf with their name on it, just in case they needed to track this person. dogs were especially trained to track these smell. we have some scent jars with the yellow material inside them. hundreds of these are being stored in the headquarters. you have another artifact of a similar nature.
it's called a dog hormone kit. if they wanted to track somebody around the city, they would spray female dog hormones outside of their apartment. they would step on it, get the dog hormone on their shoes. it is specially trained male dogs who can track these hormones through the city, sometimes even for days. in 1989 the berlin wall fell, east germany doesn't exist today. i know increasingly visitors don't remember the berlin wall, don't remember east berlin. we have this exhibit on cold war berlin, which to many of our visitors would be learning about something they don't know about at all. a physical barrier
divided people of the same country into two different societies and her memory the differences between the society. east germany is an example of surveillance state. we talk about the balance between security and freedom. the emphasis was certainly on security over freedom. we think it's important for people to remember what a state like that was like. and all the artifacts are getting people a taste of what it might have been like. we have hundreds of artifacts in this museum today. we hope you come to washington, d.c. visit the museum and visit other exhibits on other aspects